Isn’t it funny, how much you think you know after navigating only the first 20 years of your life? When you were a young sticky kid, and were still okay wearing clothes that your mom picked out for you, you knew that there was a lot that you didn’t know.
Those big words and that crazy math stuff, I will know that when I am older- and when I get old, I will be able to drive a car! And when I am really old, like 21, then I can move out!
But then, when get to a certain age, somewhere after the gloriously awkward high school years and before you reach the mid-twenties (which can also be *gloriously awkward*), you think that you have it all figured out. I don’t know about you, but after graduating high school, and during college, I thought I knew some stuff. Then, I welcomed this sweet bundle of a tiny human into my life and boy, was I humbled! I had graduated literally from college, and then I graduated figuratively from a life that was focused mostly on me and my own future. Now, I have to figure out my future, and hers.
What on earth am I going to do with this brand new human? This little person literally thinks that I know everything- if only she knew!
I really hope I don’t mess this up.
There is a reason that people develop so slowly (compared to how quickly other animals grow into adulthood- for example, hamsters). Humans take such a long time to grow up because parents need time to correct their parenting mistakes and prevent their children from becoming terrible adults. This is totally a scientific explanation, and definitely not something I just think in my own head…
(That was a joke, Fonzi, don’t google it- you probably won’t find any scientifically tested evidence to support my hypothesis.)
But, I am so thankful every day that kids don’t mature at the same rate as hamsters, because it gives me a chance to learn how to be a good parent, and to fix my mistakes, or at least give it my best try. Parents and kids start at the same point- not knowing much about anything. As a parent, in a sense, I get to start over and re-learn everything about life and the world through my daughter’s eyes. Really, looking at the world as if you know nothing is entirely more interesting than pretending to know everything. I think it was Plato who wrote that Socrates once said “I know one thing: that I know nothing”. Little kids are like this- they know nothing, and they know it. Why else would they ask questions ALL THE TIME. And because they know nothing, they are free to be simply, unapologetically, humanly inquisitive.
In looking at the world through the eyes of my toddler, I have learned so much from her and the way she approaches the world. Parenting is all about humility, am I right? Here are some things that I have learned from my daughter that I believe truly apply to everyone, not just parents:
1. The words “I love you” are magical. Let me add that those words are only magical if you really mean them. There have been many times when I have been particularly irritated or stressed or upset and, sensing my bad mood, Coco has looked me right in the eye and said “I love you, Mama.” Every time, I am suddenly disarmed, and any tension that had been building up quickly dissolves away. Her unexpected and honest expression of her unconditional love has the power to make me step back and reassess myself and the real issues. These words are powerful when used often and in the right way.
2. Be weird. My daughter is unapologetically herself. I think most toddlers are, until they grow older and are made to care about what other people think of them. Coco is Coco and no one else- she might try on dozens of different personas and characters in a day, but in the end she is still totally cool with simply being herself, just as she is- weird, loud, funny, sensitive. Toddlers are adept at being proud of who they are. Want to sing in the grocery store? Go for it. Want to wear your sparkly skirt on a Tuesday for no reason (other than sparkly skirts are THE best)- that’s your prerogative. Weird is the new cool.
3. See everyone as equal. Coco speaks to every person exactly the same. Whether they are brown, white, or purple, rich or poor, young or old, she speaks to all people as if she is genuinely interested and happy to know them- and she actually is happy to know them! This could be attributed to her outgoing and unreserved personality, but it’s also because she just doesn’t care. She doesn’t care about your social status or financial situation, or whatever is going on with your hair, she just wants to talk to you. I think we could all use a lesson in treating everyone with the same respect.
4. Never stop asking questions. Be a sponge. Soak it all in. Put the phone down. Get immersed in whatever it is that you are doing- taking a bath, or lining up the blocks just right, or looking at the “creatures” (bugs) in the grass. Pay attention and ask whatever question is on your mind. Stay inquisitive. Stay awed. Stay childlike.
5. Wear your heart on your sleeve. If you have spent any time with a toddler, you know that they usually have no inhibitions about letting you know how they feel. I have yet to meet a toddler who is passive aggressive and makes you guess about whether or not they are upset or angry. They just tell you. Or yell it at you. Either way, I would much rather be a like a toddler and make my feelings known than be like an adult who tries to manipulate their emotions and the emotions of other people. Just let it out!
6. Move every chance you get. My toddler never stops moving- movement is her natural state. Somewhere along the way on the path of growing up, we are expected to sit still for hours and hours a day, even though it is more natural for us to be moving freely. What’s worse, we get used to being inactive, and even prefer it to being active. Find a way that you love to move, and you won’t even realize you are exercising. My toddler never worries about looking weird or silly- she just moves because she loves it!
7. Get creative. Her favorite orange serving spoon can be an ice pick, a dog bone, a horse, or a lollipop, among countless other things, depending on the day. I am continuously amazed at the ways she imagines the world to be. I believe that toddlers naturally think outside the box. They naturally find creative solutions to their problems, because in their eyes their physical and imaginary worlds have no limitations. I am trying to train myself to solve my own problems with the creativity of a toddler- unconventionally, with an inexhaustible imagination.
8. Know what you want. (But don’t throw a fit if you don’t get it.) This second part about not throwing a fit is still being learned by my tiny human. But she sure does know what she wants, and she will use her iron will and unceasing determination to try to get it. I make sure that she doesn’t always get what she wants, because that is a necessary and invaluable life lesson, and toddlers don’t know what’s best for them, but it is also an invaluable lesson to learn to keep trying in the face of discouragement. You won’t make it every time, but you need to keep trying until you do- or until your mom says no.
Here’s your assignment: find a little kid you know, and just observe them in the world- you might learn something!
That’s all for now! We love to hear from you, so shoot us an email or find us on Facebook :)